Amongst the first five things you are likely to do when you wake up, is look at your phone. You will check if anyone has called you while you were asleep, texted or tweeted, or contacted you via some social network, and of course sent you those life-altering emails. Sometimes we brush our teeth after this routine, which we are so accustomed to, that it takes no longer than 4 minutes to glance at the whole shebang.
Technology and connectedness are interlinked today as never before. Apparently one doesn’t have a hope of finding a date for Friday night or meeting one’s life partner the second time around (much less the first), unless one is on some sort of networking site. There are sites that cater to people looking for partners of all kinds of profiles- age, number of marriages, meaningless (as opposed to meaningful) interaction, and of course more serious status markers such as caste et cetera.
Yet for all those countless people that naturally ‘connect’ or ‘network’, there are an equal amount of countless people who are terrified of exposure to the world at large. What if your boss or colleagues find out that you are actively looking for someone in your life? Will it reduce the credibility of your work? What if some photographs of you drinking alcohol show up on a social networking site? The ‘what ifs’ are countless and yes, without seeming paranoid, they are valid as well.
Yet, we want to know what is happening in the lives of our friends and family, we want to connect with long-lost friends across continents, we want to be hired quickly and lucratively which is apparently not possible without an on-line resume, or public profile on a business networking site. The bottom line is that you live in a society where there are umpteen invisible lines of connections between people, between people and organizations, between organizations and their counterparts in other geographic locations…the list can go on. It is naive to assume that one can live external to these linkages, unless one is living a life of solitude and is completely self-reliant.
Find the filters, establish the blockages to one’s privacy that one deserves, expose as much of yourself as you are comfortable with, be on top of your game. The truth is that the addiction sets in discretely and with great intensity. The message tone on your phone, the status alert, the ping, the vibration on your desk will remind you constantly that no man (or woman) is an island. We can find solace in these networks, yet we may need to be treated for carpal tunnel syndrome or feel a dull ache in our wrists from time to time. But every now and then, do a digital detox if you can, maybe when you are on holiday. Disable data roaming not only because it will cost you as much as another holiday, but because you really need to switch yourself off from your own life. You need to live in the moment, looking at that sprawling expanse of ocean or skyline in front of you. Not taking selfies (especially not with that selfie-stick!), not ‘liking’ posts, not posting pictures, not ‘checking-in’. We have all done it. And in the future perhaps we will have to hand in our phones at secure facilities so that we can unwind. Seems ridiculous? Give it a decade. And re-read this article.